Third Wave Coffee Tours, Portland

Third Wave Coffee Tours is an excellent way to explore the Oregonian coffee scene. We signed up for Thursday's Artisinal Donuts and Specialty Coffee tour and literally let owner Lora Woodruff lead us about by our noses. The tour gave fascinating insights into the local scene and gave us a stunning array of donuts to sample. We began at Coco Donuts and were offered two varieties of single origin drip coffee paired with our treats; at each donut stop our coffee was offered black and although I don't normally drink it that way I decided to get into the spirit and wasn't sorry. We walked from Coco to Local Roasting Co where we watched the magic at work, hearing the crack of the beans and smelling a freshly roasted batch. From there to Bluestar Donuts, who brewed an interesting, exclusive roast that Lora explained was designed to stand up to the strong flavours of the donuts - one being a sweet potato and sage number - you can't help but notice the perfect pairing. Our final stop on the tour was sampling a short macchiato from fine coffee purveyors, Barista, and we were lucky enough to take in a cupping session in progress. Wish I'd bought the He-Man tee - souvenir regrets!

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Courier Coffee, Portland

Another cafe that allows its customers to bathe in sunlight. It is a joy to sit in the window of Courier Coffee with a mason jar of caffe latte and while away the time chatting and people watching. Courier is a very smooth roast and the barista skilled in producing exactly the right ratio of milk so as not to overwhelm the flavour. Visit Joel's blog for an enjoyable read, he waxes poetic beautifully about all things coffee business: "Heating water is a science, but it can be an art as well if you are able to work with your senses. for us making coffee is part science, part art. we need some sort of scale, yet we also need to engage the senses that we have."

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Storyville, Seattle

While having multiple locations, Storyville maintains the feel of a boutique cafe. I made the climb to Storyville in Pike Place and amongst cosy surrounds overlooking the bustling marketplace, I picked up a latte that was beautifully whipped, poured and had the perfect ratio of shot to milk. I went back here a couple of days in a row...

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